First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits increased by more than expected in the week ended March 9th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims rose to 229,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 223,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 225,000.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average fell to 223,750, a decrease of 2,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 226,250.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, climbed by 18,000 to 1.776 million in the week ended March 2nd.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still dipped to 1,766,250, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average of 1,767,250.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. job growth nearly ground to a halt in the month of February.
The report said non-farm payroll employment edged up by 20,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 311,000 jobs in January.
Economists had expected employment to increase by about 180,000 jobs compared to the spike of 304,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Despite the much weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in February from 4.0 percent in January. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 3.9 percent.